Senkaku Islands purchase by government being formalized

The paperwork’s being finalized between Japan’s government and the private owner of secluded islands in the East China Sea, a move that is certain to irritate China.

The purchase of the five Senkaku Islands for ¥2.05 billion from a private owner was dealt with by the Chief Cabinet Secretary, Osamu Fujimura, Foreign Minister Koichiro Genba, and Finance Minister Jun Azumi. Once signed, the funds were to be disbursed by the Cabinet and then paid over to the owner this week.

The islands in the East China Sea have been under Japanese control since 1895, with exception of a few post-World War II years when they were under U.S. control. Since early 1970’s studies suggested there could be oil and gas reserves in the island chain, China jumped in claiming ownership and calling the islands Diaoyu. Taiwan did the same, naming the islets Tiaoyutai.

The government’s purchase is to nationalize the islets of Uotsuri, Kitakojima and Minamikojima, which have been being leased from the private landowner. Taishojima is already owned by the central government.